A Traveler Exploring Genealogy and Technology at RootsTech

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the first ever RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah as one of a few hosted national bloggers. In planning our 2011 objectives for the Brilliant Tips Travel Blog, we aimed to get more involved in the lifestyle and cultural aspect of travel. The opportunity to explore genealogy and technology as it relates to travel sounded interesting to me and seemed to fit with our objective.

The conference itself was hosted by FamilySearch and included sponsorships by some of the biggest companies in technology and the world of genealogy today.

From a technology standpoint it was described as genealogy wired to the gills, with major company sponsorships from the likes of Microsoft, Dell, Novell and Oracle, to name a few. Microsoft sponsored a fun zone that included multiple stations featuring its new Xbox Kinect, ping pong and foosball tables and chess.

rootstech 2010 playground

On the genealogy side, ancestry.com seemed to lead the way while a new company called brightsolid also shined brightly. Another company that stood out to me was Geni.com, mainly because their representative was really working the media hub and the floor in general. Very engaging.

Select sessions were streamed live for those who couldn’t be there in person and the initiative seemed to draw lots of praise on Twitter.

The most popular booth, by far, was Flip-Pal, a company selling mobile scanners. Their cordless device scans images anywhere and stores them on a memory card. This ability is apparently perfect for researchers and genealogists. The company had people lined up to purchase the mobile scanner for three days straight. Buyers weren’t just research attendees either. I saw quite a few genealogy bloggers had purchased them as well.

FamilySearch provided a MediaHub in the center of the conference hall that had all the tools necessary for, mainly, bloggers to push out stories quickly and effectively. Tools from connectivity to sound proof meeting rooms to complimentary, on the spot video production. Overall, FamilySearch did an amazing job at eliminating the barriers that could possibly stand in the way of getting their message out quickly.

rootstech media hub

One thing that caught my attention right away was the Developers Challenge. Cash and prizes were offered to anyone who wanted to get their hands dirty with the FalimySearch API and mash it up with any one of a list of social media APIs like Twitter or Facebook. Ultimately, after attending the developers challenge presentations myself, it appeared that something went astray somewhere along the way with the challenge itself. A tech/culture blogger from our group gave his point of view on how it went down and a genealogy blogger I met along the way profiled the winning idea from a genealogy perspective.

On the last day I had the opportunity to see a presentation by Curt Witcher that I found very interesting. The theme of his presentation was how to be a successful genealogy society in the 21st century. He was very candid with his thoughts and recommendation as to what many societies need to do differently. Looking at some of the examples he used in his presentation, it seemed clear that in many cases the society websites were in desperate need of a face-lift and re-think.

rootstech 2010

The conference wrapped up with a nice closing reception and awards ceremony in which the FamilySearch team recognized all the hard work put forth by its employees.

For information on genealogy and travel, my coverage can be found on the Brilliant Tips Travel Blog.

IMAGES VIA: Luxegen Genealogy and Family History

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